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UNEP, Cities Alliance Outline Tools for Integrating Environment into Urban Planning

Integrating the Environment in Urban Planning and Management: Key Principles and Approaches for Cities in the 21st Century8 April 2014: Rapid urbanization is an opportunity to build more sustainable, equitable and efficient cities and towns, according to ‘Integrating the Environment in Urban Planning and Management: Key Principles and Approaches for Cities in the 21st Century,' a report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Cities Alliance. The report focuses on the City Development Strategy (CDS) as a tool to integrate environmental issues into city planning while reducing poverty, promoting inclusive economic growth and ensuring sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

UNEP and Cities Alliance launched the report at the Seventh World Urban Forum (WUF7) in Medellin, Colombia. Speaking at the launch, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said "cities are well-placed to play a major role in decoupling economic development from resource use and environmental impacts, while finding a better balance between social, environmental and economic objectives." William Cobbett, Cities Alliance Director, called for national governments to create space for cities to help transform unsustainable human development patterns, emphasizing “cities need to integrate the environment into their planning before, and not after, urbanization.”

The report proposes the CDS and the green urban economy approach as strategies for integrating the environment in urban planning and management and elaborates upon key principles, including: participation, politics and political commitment; harmonization and multi-level governance; and the identification and overcoming of gaps and challenges. It analyzes the CDS in 15 cities: Bengaluru, India; Can Tho, Viet Nam; Dakar, Senegal; Dosso, Niger; Douala, Cameroon; Ekurhuleni, South Africa; Ha-Da-Qi, China; Ha Long, Viet Nam; Maradi, Niger; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Sana'a, Yemen; Santa Adriana, Chile; Thimphu, Bhutan; Tshwane, South Africa; and Yangzhou, China. It finds the CDS is more effective when it is anchored to an existing concern among city residents, such as climate change adaptation in Metro Manila, the Philippines, an area with high exposure to environmental hazards, or environmental degradation in Ha Long, Viet Nam, which relies on tourism.

The report recommends options for city leaders to reduce negative environmental impacts and improve resource efficiency. Examples include: integrating greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) strategies into urban planning and management; expanding energy access through greening energy supplies; mainstreaming environmental priorities into local development and city-level plans; implementing green urban economy approaches, including green urban infrastructure; conducting environmental rehabilitation projects; creating green jobs; and ensuring financial support for urban environmental activities.

The Cities Alliance is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction that promotes the role of cities in sustainable development. The report builds upon a 2007 report by UNEP and Cities Alliance, ‘Livable Cities: the Benefits of Urban Environment Planning.' The 2014 report includes a focus on climate change. [UNEP Press Release] [Cites Alliance Press Release] [Publication: Integrating the Environment in Urban Planning and Management: Key Principles and Approaches for Cities in the 21st Century] [IISD RS Coverage of WUF7]